More Post-Apocalyptic Worry Abounds in THE YEAR OF THE FLOOD

yearofthefloodThe second installment in the MaddAddam trilogy, The Year of the Flood, runs parallel with the events of Oryx and Crake. The novel follows young Ren and aging Toby as they struggle in the post-apocalyptic society, looking for other survivors. Just as in the first novel, their pasts are revealed through extensive flashbacks, giving us a broader view of the world outside the Healthwyzer compound (which we saw a lot of in Oryx and Crake).
The first novel dealt a mostly with science and Crake’s motivation for creating a “perfect” species. Flood deals with the religious aspects of the world. Both Ren and Toby spend time with the God’s Gardeners cult, the fanatics behind the creation of MaddAddam. Both women’s live crossover into Jimmy’s narrative, popping up at recognizable moments from Oryx and Crake. Ren, especially, is so interwoven into Jimmy’s life you almost feel the urge to reread his account. But as the novel reaches its thrilling conclusion, catching up with Jimmy’s final moments from before, you’ll feel an even more pressing urge to jump into MaddAddam.
Atwood’s skilled writing is further exemplified in this novel. She incorporates her poetry background into the hymns that the Gardeners sing. She also intriguingly jumps between first person for Ren’s story and third person for Toby’s. Her world building for this trilogy is astounding, and Flood will continue to put you on edge with the frightening prescience of the culture and events in the novel.

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TWO BOYS KISSING Accurately Portrays Gay Teens Today

17456790David Levithan is currently one of the greatest YA authors today. Constantly pushing inventive writing and unique storytelling devices, all aimed at capturing the attention of teenagers and inspiring a new generation of readers and writers. What’s more, he does a powerful job of portraying LGBT characters in these novels as well. And now, 10 years after his breakthrough novel Boy Meets Boy, Levithan captures gay culture in 2013 in Two Boys Kissing.

Told from the perspective of the Gays of the Past, who speak in “we” pronoun form, we follow a weekend in the lives of various gay teenagers as two ex-boyfriends/best friends try to break the record for the world’s longest kiss. Levithan gives us a glimpse at nearly every type of teen in love from the newly infatuated couple to the depressed, suicidal loner. It’s a mosaic of characters who accurately portray what it is like to be a gay teen in America today.

Two Boys Kissing (inspired by a Walt Whitman poem) feels too contrived in the beginning: the “we” voice is convoluted and some of the more poignant storylines feel emotionally manipulative. But once you become fully immersed in the novel you’ll be unable to stop reading. You soon forgive the novel its contrivances for its overall message, a hopeful and inspiring one for gay teens. And you’ll be reminded just how wonderful Levithan’s writing truly is.

 

Enjoy a Full Dose of Post-Apocalyptic Worry with ORYX AND CRAKE

On the coast of North America (just north of New New York), Snowman (formerly Jimmy) keeps a semi-watchful eye over a group of genetically superior—yet psychologically simple—beings, called Crakers. He finds it difficult to explain to them the significance of various debris they find that existed before them—a hubcap, a computer mouse, a piano key. But such artifacts spur memories of his life before and the deification of the two people closest to him: Oryx and Crake.

81PBOoxlI4L._SL1500_Oryx and Crake is the first installment in Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy and sets up a post-apocalyptic future that is frightening because it seems like it could happen very soon. Crake’s quest for the perfect genetically engineered “human” takes him down a rabbit hole of extremes, and his best friend Jimmy does not realize how far Crake is willing to go until it is too late. The world of scientific compounds and ghettoized pleeblands resemble many other dystopic/apocalyptic stories, but the world of Oryx and Crake appears so much more real (the advances in science are not far off from what the world is currently working on) that it becomes imminently more frightening.

I should not have to tell you that Atwood’s writing is superb—she’s one of the greatest living writers (and most likely the greatest Canadian writer ever). If you’ve never read her stuff, start out with The Handmaid’s Tale (required reading in Canadian high schools) before delving into this trilogy. And if you’re already familiar with her work, then now is the time to grab Oryx and Crake since the final novel in the trilogy, MaddAddam, has just been released.